These terrifyingly cute robots just want to make a movie

Credit: Bram Belloni

A swarm of small, highly mobile robots has descended upon New York. Each of the cardboard-encased robots will be able to sniff out a human by either movement or heat. And when they find you, they'll make a beeline right at you. But, as ours isn't the world of Minority Report, they won't end up probing you invasively when they do find you. At least not in a physical sense.

The project is dubbed Robots in Residence and aims to create a documentary that will be will be entirely shot and directed by BlabDroids, the tiny robot creations of MIT grad student Alex Reben. Fittingly, the New York event the robots are taking over is the TriBeCa Film Festival,an event that draws filmmakers and other media types like moths to a flame. So the robots are making a film about humans who make films about robots. That's some seriously meta stuff right there.

A little further down the rabbit hole from the project's goal is a concept called the "ELIZA effect" that was conceived by another MIT computer scientist. Basically, it states that humans really like to anthropomorphize computers — much as we do with our pets.

So here's the slightly manipulative part of our story: The robots are designed to look like toys, talk like little kids, and then ask you deeply probing questions, which you're inclined to think are adorable, and thus answer. Because robot children need to know how the world really is! Except they're not really children. They're movie cameras — cameras that will capture your innermost thoughts and then edit them into a film, which they will then air for all the world to see.

What's more, they've already got some experience. The BlabDroids were first released upon the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdamwith stunning results. Look closely at the images in the video below. This is the new face of terror. Or maybe just documentary.

Via Wired

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Profile: Installation Robots in Residence with Alexander Reben and Brent Hoff from Submarine Channel on Vimeo.